Monday, May 16, 2005
NASA's CloudSat Spacecraft Arrives at Launch Site
A NASA spacecraft designed to reveal the inner secrets of Earth's clouds has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., to begin final launch preparations.
The CloudSat spacecraft arrived at Vandenberg from Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo., on May 2. Following final tests, it will be integrated onto a Boeing Delta II launch vehicle, sharing its ride into orbit later this year with another NASA spacecraft, the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation, or Calipso.
CloudSat and Calipso will give us new, 3-D perspectives on Earth's clouds and aerosols that will answer questions about how they form, evolve and affect our weather, climate, water supply and air quality.
CloudSat and Calipso employ revolutionary measurement technologies that will probe Earth's atmosphere as never before. Each spacecraft transmits pulses of electromagnetic energy and measures the portion scattered back to the instruments. CloudSat's Cloud Profiling Radar is more than 1,000 times more sensitive than typical weather radar. Calipso's polarization lidar instrument can tell the difference between ice and water in clouds, and between liquid and solid aerosol particles. By distinguishing aerosols from ice particles based on combined Calipso and CloudSat data, we will gain new insight into dynamics and properties of clouds and their influence on Earth's radiation balance.
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